Innovations in Primary and Secondary Packaging

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Equipment and Processing Report

Equipment and Processing Report, Equipment and Processing Report-05-15-2019, Volume 12, Issue 5

INTERPHEX 2019 presented solutions for ophthalmic containers, materials, and equipment for forming primary containers, child-resistant and tamper-evident (TE) cartons, and cold-chain packaging.

INTERPHEX 2019 (April 4–6, New York, NY) presented innovations in primary and secondary packaging for pharmaceuticals including ophthalmic containers, materials and equipment for forming primary containers, child-resistant and tamper-evident (TE) cartons, and cold-chain packaging.

Ophthalmic packaging 

For ophthalmic liquids that require a calibrated dose, LF of America displayed two-color injection-molded vials with a luer lock closure or rubber stopper. Already commercial in Europe, the containers are filled on a Pentafill machine and are particularly well-suited for preservative-free formulas. Filling occurs from the bottom up, and seal integrity is assured by a three-step process: hot blowing, hot crimping, and cold crimping. The machine handles a range of viscosities and can be used in a cleanroom or isolator. Speeds range from 50 to 200 vials/min. 

Aero Pump also offers ophthalmic metered-dose pump technology for preservative-free products. Compatible with different bottle sizes and materials, the pump prevents product contamination via a leak-proof valve, which prevents backflow; a filter that removes impurities from ambient air; and a silver coil with antimicrobial properties at the pump opening. A Side Actuation Device or Comfort Grip accessory fits over the container/pump to simplify dispensing (1). 

Container-forming materials and equipment

For foil-packed products, Wisepac aluminum desiccant film from Wisesorbent can eliminate the desiccant insertion process. A desiccant film layer in the patent-pending laminate offers performance similar to silica gel desiccants. A 15% price premium is offset by the elimination of desiccant cartridges or pouches and the related equipment. An oxygen-absorbing foil laminate is on the drawing board.  

For shelf impact, uniquely shaped FreeFormPack paperboard containers (see Figure 1) are molded from stretchable, preprinted FibreForm rollstock from BillerudKorsnäs on a FreeFormPack form-fill-seal machine from Curti Costruzioni Meccaniche, which recently established a US office. Containers can be embossed with distinctive patterns and feature a plastic neck ring. Designed for dry goods, the proprietary container designs and forming technology discourage counterfeiting. Presented as a more sustainable option to plastic bottles, the fiber-based containers reduce carbon emissions by 75%. Form-fill-seal operation also eliminates empty container warehousing and trucking costs and the need for secondary labels. Options include a high-barrier structure with a layer of ethylene vinyl alcohol polymer; 46-, 56-, 76-, and 100-mm container diameters; and various heights and closure styles.


Another machine that relies on rollstock, the FD-Pharma Series II Die Cut system from Medical Packaging, fills cups and die-cuts and applies lids to create unit-dose packages of liquid pharmaceuticals. Initially installed in hospitals, the dual-head, 23-cup/min machine is now moving into pharmacies and also addressing low-volume manufacturing needs. Medical Packaging simplifies sourcing by supplying the fill-seal machine as well as the cups and rollstock. Cups come in four sizes, but a standard diameter simplifies changeover. A thermal-transfer printer prints the lidstock in one color on demand. A die cut tab serves as an easy-opening feature. Its positive displacement piston pump achieves +/1 0.1% accuracy. 

Unit-dose packaging also can be produced on stickpack machines, such as the INV Pack BY3 and SP6 models from Matrix Packaging Machinery, a member of the ProMach family of brands. Stickpack machines can be equipped with a printer from Greydon, a ProMach sister company. 

Secondary packaging

Secondary packaging innovations focused on child-resistant (CR) cartons, tamper-evident (TE) cartons, and cold-chain packaging. The CR carton design from IGB, already adopted for vaping liquids, features an integral key to unlock the box (see Figure 2) . Closing the box automatically relocks it. The TE carton design reveals a red indicator after initial opening. Both designs are compatible with existing cartoning equipment or manual loading. 

For temperature-controlled packaging, sustainable options are in demand. The R3 Service Program from Cryopak eliminates the disposal costs and environmental impact related to shipping pallets of temperature-controlled products. Its Bulk Pallet Transporter is offered in 2–8 ºC and controlled room temperature options and can be returned, refurbished, and reused for up to two years. Cryopak also offers pre-conditioned units, a quality tracking system, and the CTL temperature-monitoring data logger, which can be read without opening the box (2). In addition to the pallet return program, the company offers reusable CryoCube coolers and has a return and refurbishment program for its data loggers.

The NanoCool shipper from NanoPure builds the cooler into the lid to eliminate gel packs and reduce freight expenses, warehouse requirements, inventory costs, and the need for preconditioning, refrigerators, and freezers. NanoCool packs maintain 2–8 ºC conditions for 48 or 92 hours and are available in various sizes. 


1. Aero Pump, "Ophthalmic Multidose System," Brochure. 

2. Cryopak, "R3 Service Program,", accessed April 29, 2019.